Potential risks of being an estate executor and how to avoid them

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | Estate Planning

Being named executor in someone’s will not only gives you strenuous duties as part of probating their estate but also puts you at risk of potential liability if things go wrong.

Knowing the potential risks that come with the position can help you avoid them since you can anticipate probate issues and develop solutions beforehand.

What triggers executor liability?

Will executors have a fiduciary responsibility to administer the estate correctly and efficiently. Correspondingly, a breach of this duty gives heirs and beneficiaries a ground to request their removal from the position and file legal action against them.

Examples of this breach of duty include the following acts:

  • Mishandling the estate’s assets
  • Misappropriation of estate funds
  • Deviation from the will’s instructions
  • Failure to follow the rules of distribution
  • Refusal to provide probate updates and estate information to involved parties

Technically, any action or inaction of the executor that is not in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries is a breach of duty.

Protect yourself from liability

When it comes to attributing executor liability, it does not matter whether a breach of duty is unintentional. This only imputes negligence to an executor, which can result in dismissal or, worse, a lawsuit for damages.

Hence, it is crucial for you as a personal representative to carefully plan each move during the estate’s administration to avoid any mistakes. If you have uncertainties about your role, an experienced probate attorney can help you understand your responsibilities better. This way, you can protect yourself from potential liability.